Job Search – Please Write Those Important STAR Stories

Job Search – Please Write Those Important STAR Stories

Today we republish an extract from an earlier post. But I make no excuses because I think writing STAR stories can make such an important contribution to your job search and to your career development, if you want to prove to your employer that you are ready for promotion.

STAR Stories Make You A Star

Writing STAR stories is a way to prepare not only to write your CV but also to answer questions at interview. This will be particularly important if the organisation you want to join, or contract with, is committed to competency based interviewing or wants evidence of what you have done so far! Your STAR stories help to give evidence of just how competent you are.

But preparing your STAR stories can also be a real boost to your self-confidence, particularly if you are going through a difficult period at work.

Writing your stories

The STAR method means that for each of your major achievements you will set out the;
  • S – Situation, the background – when where, who and why
  • T – Task or tasks, you need to be specific here – exactly what was the problem you were trying to solve, you were you required to do and what was the required outcome?
  • A – Action, what did you do and what skills did you use? How did you behave? What obstacles did you meet and how did you overcome them? 
  • R – Result . what was the outcome? What happened and what were the benefits that you delivered. How could you measure them? Can you put a price or some dimensions on the scale of your achievement?  How did the organisation respond?

People like hearing a well told story. And telling your stories well will make sure you are memorable for the right reasons; so long as they are not too long, they stay positive and they are realistic!

You will not put all detail from your STAR stories into your CV, but it really helps to remind yourself of the past vividly when you write it.

When you start, think right back to the beginning of your career;

  1. Use your laptop or simply get a notebook and note down all the good things you have achieved. We are talking here about your personal successes!
  2. Don’t spend time on the things that you don’t feel good about! Remember, a whole programme or initiative doesn’t have to have been a total for your part of it to be something you are proud of!
  3. Now pick at least 10 achievements across your career. For job search, include at least five from the more recent past. But there is no limit to how many STAR stores you can produce.
  4. For each achievement, write a STAR story, setting out what happened and clearly explaining your contribution.
  5. Of course you can write as much or as little as you like about each success but for your portfolio record about one page of A4 for each is usually enough.
  6. Start with your early achievements and work forward.
  7. Do your research if necessary about times, places and events. You are building a portfolio to be proud of so make sure your stories are accurate!
  8. After you have completed each story take a pause and review! Enjoy your success.
  9. When you have completed five lay them out before them and feel proud – I bet you had forgotten how good your were!
  10. When you are ready, type them up and print them out on good quality paper! Then put them in a folder with your name on the front!

Your portfolio now has its foundations. You can references and recommendations as well as certificates you hold and any awards. From this material you can draw soundly based evidence of your competencies. It can be drawn on for your job applications and used as reminder of just how good you really are when you hit those career bumps that everyone has to endure sometimes

By the way STAR stories don’t have to be confined to paid employment. Have you had a voluntary role? Are there things you have done for your local community? Well write the stories and put them in! They will all serve to show just what a valuable and competent person you really are!

And I would love to hear how you get on and I wish all those starting out on, or a continuing, a job search every success. If I can help, please get in touch.

Warm regards

Wendy
wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com
http://wisewolfcoaching.com

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Five Tips to Help You Feel More Confident

Five Tips to Help You Feel More Confident

This is a post I published a few years ago now but I believe it still useful.

Having a healthy amount of self-esteem and self-confidence is something that helps to make your life happier and more successful. Having confidence in yourself and your abilities goes a long way whether you’re facing a tough decision, adapting to a new situation or facing major change. Here are some tips on how to build your self-esteem.

1. Stay relaxed

Staying relaxed in general can help you see the bigger picture and not sweat the small stuff so much. It’s also a good frame of mind to be in when you’re taking a close look at the things you’re not so good at. There are lots of simple relaxation techniques around that can help – simple breathing exercises are easy to learn and really do help. Try this link.

2. Understand your strengths

Everybody’s good at something, and many people are good at quite a few things. Even if you don’t have a talent or strength that you’re aware of, you probably have some interests you can develop into strengths.Make a list of a few things you’re good at and a few things you’re interested in and would like to be better at. Share this list with someone you like and trust – this is a good exercise to do with a partner who also wants to work on their confidence. They can probably help you find other things you’re good at, too, and help you come up with a plan for developing other skills and interests.

3. Realize your limits.

Remember no one is perfect and no one can do everything. It may not always seem this way, but it’s true. So if you are not the chief executive or a millionaire – that’ is OK! You have a personality and a perspective on the world that’s all your own and completely valuable.

4. Stop criticizing yourself. Now!

This is one of the things that stop us achieving our goals and feeling good about ourselves. You are a mixture of strengths and weaknesses just like everyone else.Concentrate on the good bits! If you don’t do well at a particular project or task the first (or even the second time), it doesn’t mean that you never will. Perhaps you weren’t prepared or the time simply wasn’t right. It doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with you or that you’ll never succeed. It is natural to feel disappointed but don’t get hooked on it – let it go and move on. You’ll be that much closer to achieving what you want if you do.

5. Celebrate the good things.

Notice all the good things you do in a day even the small things.Everything – the favor you do for a friend – the help you give a relative – it’s all good.Notice it and give yourself a big pat on the back.Get hooked on feeling good about what you achieve – it will become a habit. You could always keep a celebration journal to reflect on when you are feeling down.  Don’t be afraid to treat yourself when you do something good.

Wendy Mason is the Happiness Coach.  Wendy is a life and career coach and writer. She is passionate about helping people find happiness at work and at home! She helps people reach their goals and aspirations, without sacrificing their home and personal life.  She believes coaching requires compassion, warmth and empathy. Wendy helps people reach their career goals and aspirations, without sacrificing their home and personal life.You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com and find out more at http://wisewolfcoaching.com

Unemployment – looking after your mental health!

Depression (emotion )

Losing a job is one of the most difficult things we have to deal with in life.  It ranks right up there with losing someone you care for or going through divorce.

“It’s a serious fracture in one’s world view,” says Robert London, M.D., a staff psychiatrist at New York University’s Langone Medical Center. “It doesn’t matter if you’re an executive or a bus driver–your identity is very much wrapped up in your job. And to suddenly be without that identity can be devastating.”

That is why it can make you feel down in the first few weeks and seriously depressed if unemployment stretches over months.

It is all too easy to start believing that there must be something wrong with you personally or that you lack some vital characteristic that the rest of the world seems blessed with.

Sometimes you may not realise you are depressed.  You just want to sleep all the time, you don’t want to mix with other people and/or suddenly you start feeling mysterious aches and pains.

Now that you are depressed, of course, finding a job becomes even less likely and you may not feel you can make the effort.  If you do feel like this, then please do seek help from your doctor, coach or counsellor.

But how do you intervene before things become quite that bad?

Well, first, recognise the risk! Then, you need to take responsibility for looking after your own mental, as well as physical, health.

Being jobless can make you feel you have no control over your own life and that makes you feel insecure and unhappy.  So start to take control by giving yourself a set schedule for every day of the working week.

Make finding your new job your new job.  Set a time to start each day and make sure you are showered, dressed and in your new work space (allocate a space at home for this, if you don’t have a home office) by that time each day.

Work to a flexible but firm timetable for the day.  Explain that you will be working at home during the day to family and friends.

Each morning and evening allocate a time to check and revise your work-search “to do” list.  Make sure you build in some networking time – either by telephone, face to face or on social networks – social contact with others will be refreshing as well as part of your job search.

Make some time as well for your own personal development – are there new skills you would like or need to acquire?  The internet and your local library will help you to find free or at least inexpensive resources.

At the end of your working day, if you can, close the door on your working space or at least make it look different.  Then spend time with family and friends doing what you usually enjoy.

Resist the temptation to hole up in your house and wait for the world to come to you. As Dr London say “Isolation is a dangerous thing. When you live in your head, you ruminate and feed your depression,”

Try each day to find either something to be inspired by – nature is great for that – or something to laugh at.  Laughing at old comedy programs should probably available for us all as part of public health services.

Wendy Mason works as a Coach, Consultant and Blogger. She works with all kinds of people going through many different kinds of personal and career change, particularly those wanting to increase their confidence

If you would like to work on developing your own confidence, Wendy offers the Wisewolf Learn to Be Confident Program at this link

You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com  or ring ++44 (0)2084610114

I am unemployed and bored. I’m tired of applying for jobs and not getting any replies!

This is a photo symbolizing the job search in ...
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I heard from someone recently who is getting very tired of the whole process of applying for work.  He still wants to work, but he is just fed up of making applications that don’t get replies.  He is bored staying at home every day.

His routine is now to stay up late watching television and then get up at noon, the next day, just to hang around the house.

It is all too easy for this to happen when you don’t have the stimulus of a regular job. On top of that, constant rejection, or worse the feeling that you are invisible, can lead to depression.

My friend may need quite an intervention to get him moving again.

What about you?  If you feel yourself slipping into a similar state, you need to act and quickly

First, you need to be quite firm in establishing a new and healthy routine.

Go to bed and get up at the same times you did when you had a job.  This doesn’t apply to those who had a long commute obviously, so use some discretion, but generally stick with your previous sleeping pattern, if you can. If you are not sleeping talk to your pharmacist about trying some of the gentle herbal remedies that are around to help with sleep.  If that doesn’t work then you should talk to your doctor

Make a new routine for yourself during the day and set yourself some new goals.

How about going to the gym or taking a long walk in the morning before you even tackle anything to do with your job search.

Then allocate a certain period each day for work at home on your job search but please do not spend all day on it! Spend some of each day on a hobby that has nothing to do with your job search.

Now is the time to review and refresh your job search material, CV etc.  Could you ask a friend to review it for you?  If you have access to a coach, then work on it with your coach.

This might be the time to widen your job search field. Could you do some work with a coach to identify new opportunities?  Think about things you have enjoyed over the years, what have you not yet considered as a work opportunity?

In any case review your progress so far!  If you have got to interview stage in any of your applications, what feedback were you give?  If you didn’t ask for feedback, is there still time to make a phone call and talk to the recruiting manager?

Having set a time for your search at home, now think about opportunities to meet up with friends or contacts outside the house.  Make a point of getting out and meeting people at least once or twice a week.  These meetings won’t be to ask for work, but to keep up with people and find out what is going on around you.

If you belong to a professional association, now is the time to go to meetings! It is important to keep up with what is going on in your field.   Make some time during your days at home to keep up with developments on the internet – it is usually much cheaper than buying magazines.

Think as well about investing in a training course; either to refresh your present skills or to gain new ones. It could make you more valuable and give you some new contacts.

Think about taking on a voluntary role.  It is very good for self esteem and it helps to be able to show potential employers that you are using your time productively.

Now is not the time to brood or become that couch potato. Get up, review, revise, refresh and get out there!  Set yourself some new goals and move forward, there are still opportunities around – it is time to look for them in some new places.

I am Wendy Mason. I work as a Personal Development Coach,

 Consultant and Writer.I have worked with many different kinds of people going through all kinds of personal and career change, particularly those

  • looking for promotion or newly promoted,
  • moving between Public and Private Sectors
  • moving into retirement.

I am very good at helping you sort out what you want, overcome obstacles and handle change. I offer face to face, telephone and on-line coaching by email or Skype

Email me at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)2084610114 or ++44(0)7867681439 to find out more. 

Identifying transferable skills; a core ingredient of a successful career change

Star Plus

Today’s guest post is from Sian Case of Nail That Job.  With a small and friendly support team, they can help you at every stage of your job search journey.

I’m a recruiter and trainer of recruiters who also supports job seekers from a wide range of industries to present themselves effectively to prospective employers.

I think that most job seekers are aware that they have transferable skills but are rarely confident about identifying or describing them clearly. This is vital when you are looking for work in new fields and have to convince a recruiter that you can achieve tasks in unfamiliar settings.

Let’s start with a definition: transferable skills are effective behaviours and application of knowledge and understanding that you have learned from all your life experiences so far. You are used to displaying them in one particular context and are perfectly capable of transferring them to new contexts.

I often recommend the STAR technique, described in Wendy’s blog on CV writing, part 2:
Situation – describe the situation/issue you were dealing with
Task – what, specifically, did you have to do?
Action- what action did you take?
Result – what was the outcome/impact for your organisation/team/customer/end user of your service?

I’ve found that a useful way to identify transferable skills is to apply the STAR format to 4 or 5 examples of achievements from life experiences, not work experiences. I’ve heard some cracking achievements described from time spent on travelling, childcare, supporting elderly/vulnerable relatives, voluntary work, organising social activities, running sports or interest societies, local community campaigning, etc.

The key learning from this exercise is to discover just how many core work skills, (e.g. prioritising, decision making, managing stress, planning and organising, influencing skills, leadership experience, team working, budgeting, etc.) you learned in a non-work context and currently use those skills daily in paid employment. It also demonstrates to a potential employer that you understand how to assess, describe and evaluate the transferable skills you have to offer and that you are still learning.  You have the capacity to build your skills further in new contexts in response to new demands.

I’d really encourage all job seekers who are looking to change direction significantly to build at least one core skill into your CV that you first practised in a non- work environment. Try it and see how it enhances the issues of flexibility and versatility on your CV.

Sian Case

Email:  sian@nailthatjob.co.uk  Phone: 01789 740948

Website  http://www.nailthatjob.co.uk

Redundancy and the Family – it is change for them too!

In my last post, I described how difficult things at home are now for Dave.

Changes in life like redundancy affect us all deeply. They change us and they change our relationships. Redundancy is like bereavement and can leave you with the same gut-wrenching sense of loss, the furious “why me?”. Everyone says it’s not personal, but of course it feels that way to the one who has lost their job.

But that sense of loss isn’t just felt by us, it is felt by those close to us as well. Their lives have been changed and probably in ways they would never have chosen for themselves.

Sometimes in mass redundancies you can turn that anger outwards and on to the employer or the perceived cause of the problems for example the Bankers. Then the group binds together against the world.

If a whole community is facing difficulty, there is likely to be lots of support from within that community – think of the pit villages in the North East of England between the thirties and the seventies. Under siege you pull together. But most of us live in communities without that kind of tradition.

Dave’s wife has made a life for herself at home. Now change is being forced on her and, of course, she will resist it and be shocked by it. Dave probably felt the same when he realised he wasn’t needed any more at work. Now his wife is frightened!

Anyone who has spent a long period at home feels quite daunted by the prospect of going out to work again. And she is worried that life probably never will be the same again!

So she is in pain too and she has to deal with a whole mix of conflicting and confusing feelings. This may include feelings of resentment towards Dave. It feels as if he has brought this down on them even though he has not chosen to do so! So she feels guilty too!

In these circumstances most counsellors and coaches will tell you to share your concerns with each other. But this can be very hard to do.

Sitting down opposite each other over the kitchen table can end up being very confrontational. Sometimes, it is better to start talking when you are both facing the same way and maybe doing something else. How about going for a walk together or just for a drive. What about when you are sitting together on the sofa watching TV, but not when anyone’s favourite programme is on!

It helps if you can both admit you feel rotten and miserable about what has happened – Dave has lost a job and both are in danger of losing a life style.

Share the misery – you are in it together.

Try talking about it and really seeing it from each other’s perspective. Don’t pretend it isn’t grim for you both. Share it and then start to work together to manage it. Neither of you is responsible for this and neither should feel guilty.

Sometimes when the feelings just overwhelm you, it helps to write get it all down in a letter. When you have finished, put what you have written to one side. Decide later, when you feel calm, whether to send or destroy it.

If the anger and the depression continue, talk to your doctor or find a counsellor because these are signs you need some outside help.

Above all acknowledge the change for both of you and that both of you are suffering loss. It is not about whose loss is greater. If you can, start to work for and not against each other! You can be a team again, I’m sure!

I would welcome your thoughts on all this and I am very happy to answer questions.

  • 31st May 2011 What’s up with Dave? (leavingthepublicsector.net) 
Wendy Mason works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her awendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439

Writing your CV! Part 3 Pondering on CVs; language,confidentiality, competencies and referees!

This post is concerned with the particular issues faced by those moving between public and private sectors when completing their CV.

I’m going to comment on language, confidentiality, competencies and references.

Language

recent post here set out the reasons why public sector jargon needs to be avoided in CVs and job interviews.  Keep your language clear and simple.  When in doubt ask a non-public sector friend to read it and give you honest advice on clarity.

Confidentiality

Some public sector staff work in areas where the issues of confidentiality are real and significant.  But in all honesty most do not!  If you do, there will be clear guidance available.  You should consult your HR department about what you can say and how best to overcome the barriers to you getting a new role.

Most public sector staff do not work under the same restrictions.  The reality is that you can record on your CV the kind of work you have been doing.  Of course you should avoid information; under a security classification, relating to an individual member of the public or a fellow staff member, likely to embarrass the organisation or  Government Minister for which you have worked.

Most people will be able to describe their work in sufficient detail for a CV.  But see the comments made in the next section about how you do it.

Competencies

In my last post I included a list of skills and personal qualities (competencies) that employers are likely to look for. The list was by no means an exhaustive.

When you complete your employment history, try to show how your approach and your achievements demonstrate the competencies you quote.

For example, putting together a team and then driving through an initiative to improve the service to customers while reducing costs illustrates a number of competencies.  It can be understood quite easily by those outside the public sector.

Experience of project and programme management again can be understood outside the public sector and can be used to illustrate planning, organizing and delivering benefits when applying for roles in small to medium-sized organizations that do not have large projects for you to manage.

Those who have worked very close to Ministers managing legislation have had to use planning and organizing skills.  They are also likely to have demonstrated tact and discretion. If you have worked in difficult and sensitive areas  including policy discussions with Ministers (where influencing skills, relationship management, tact and discretion were needed, as well as the ability to be flexible and adaptable) this should be included but with discretion.

Think in terms of the competencies as you write descriptions of the work you have done.  Think in terms of organisations, tasks, problems solved and people influenced.  Describe the tasks you have completed in terms that others will understand and focus on what you delivered and how you delivered.

References

Some government departments will only offer bland references as your employer.  You will need their reference.   But it may only be a confirmation that you worked for them in a particular grade over a particular period of time.

Most large private sector employers know this – for others you may have to explain.  But you will need something more.  Try asking your line manager or someone in your management line if they would be prepared to give you a personal reference.   Also consider approaching retired senior colleagues and others who have left organisation.

It helps as well if you can provide a personal referee who holds a senior position in the private sector.  This is where people you have met during work in a voluntary capacity may be useful. Otherwise, consider people who you have met through clubs and associations.

You shouldn’t feel embarrassed about asking for a reference, most people feel flattered to be asked But you should always give people the opportunity to say no and make quite clear that you will understand if they feel they simply don’t know you well enough to help.

I would welcome your thoughts on all this and I am very happy to answer questions.

Wendy Mason works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her awendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439

Writing your CV! Part 2 Making Choices

Curriculum Vitae
  

In my last post I suggested that the following information should be in your CV:

  1. Contact details – name, address, post code, telephone number, e-mail address
  2. A short summary with Keywords for recruiters
  3. Skills and personal qualities (Competencies)
  4. Employment history and experience
  5. Qualifications, professional memberships and achievements
  6. Education and training
  7. Any special skills e.g. driving licence
  8. Interests and hobbies if relevant
  9. Referees

I mentioned as well that there are different styles of CVs.

  • A ‘traditional’ CV that lists everything in date order starting with your education and qualifications, followed by your employment history, interests etc.
  • A ‘more ‘informal’ CV starts that starts with a pen picture of yourself which highlights your skills and experience relevant to the job.
  • Variations and combinations of the two above

Here I’m going to provide you with some advice to help you complete 1 to 9 above

1. Your contact details, name address etc should be simple to complete but have a care on your email address.  This is the time for a simple and straightforward email address – not for a the jokey one that includes your nickname

2. Your summary is an opportunity to show an employer what you will bring to their organization in terms of your key expertise and transferable skills.  It should show how you will make a positive difference to their success. This is a part of your CV that should change in response to the requirements of each particular role.

Begin with previous experience but do not supply too much detail. You can have an intro along the lines of: “With 5 years experience in customer management…”. Only if it is very relevant to this particular job application be exact here – details will come later.

Use key words to focus the reader’s attention on the key skills that you want to highlight: for example, “multi-disciplinary team leadership”. This will put emphasis on more reasons why you may well be the candidate for the job.

When you have established an outline of your background and your skills it is time to look at the future.  You can state what you’re looking for and where you would like to go.  Alter your goals here marginally depending upon the job you’re applying for; for example, “seeking to further develop my career in the field of project management”.

3.” Skills and personal qualities” are usually a list and the kinds of skills that employers look for include

  • Leadership and management
  • Effective communication
  • Problem-solving and Decision Making
  • Creativity
  • Customer Focus
  • Interpersonal abilities
  • Influencing and persuading others
  • Teamwork
  • Planning and organizing
  • Computer literacy 

Highly regarded personal qualities include

  • Adaptability and flexibility
  • Professionalism and work ethic 
  • Positive attitude and energy

If you can make a claim to these qualities – it is reasonable to include them here!  Add any others you think may be relevant.

4. In describing your employment history, concentrate very much on the last ten years and what you have delivered.  This is where you draw on your STAR stories.  For each element include your job title and how long you were employed in the role, then set out briefly;

  • Situation – Describe the situation/problem you were faced with
  • Task – what did you have to do?
  • Action – what action did you take and why.
  • Results – highlight the outcome

Experience previous to the last ten years should be very much summarized unless it is directly relevant to the role but do not ignore key successes.

5. When setting out your qualifications and achievements include most prominently what is most relevant.

6. On qualifications etc, again go for what is most relevant

7. On special skills, stay with what is relevant and here you could add information from your STAR stories that relate to voluntary activities.

8. I would advise avoiding adding hobbies and interests unless they are directly relevant to the role.

9.. I don’t include the details of referees unless they have been asked for.  But I do add a note to say that they are available and can be supplied on request.  When you do provide contact details for referees remember to warn them to expect an enquiry.

I would welcome your thoughts and I am very happy to answer your questions, if I can.  My next post will discuss particular issues for those moving between public and private sectors when completing their CVs

Related articles

Wendy Mason works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her awendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439

Writing your CV! Part 1 The Basics

Curriculum Vitae

First of all ‘CV’ stands for ‘Curriculum Vitae’ which means ‘story of your life’!  But in this context it means a brief written account of your career so far. The intention is to sum up all the basic information that an employer needs to know in one short and easy-to-read document.

Once you have written a basic CV you can then make as many copies as you like and send them to anyone you wish.  But more importabtly you can then adapt this basic template to meet the needs of any particular job advert. You can send a copy of your CV when you’re applying for a specific job vacancy or when you’re just writing ‘on the off-chance’.

What information should be in a CV?

  • Contact details – name, address, post code, telephone number, e-mail address
  • A short summary with Keywords for recruiters
  • Skills and personal qualities (Competencies)
  • Employment history and experience
  • Qualifications, professional memberships and achievements
  • Education and training
  • Any special skills e.g. driving licence
  • Interests and hobbies if relevant
  • Referees

The order may vary depending on the opportunity you are applying for.

There are different ‘styles’ of CV?

  • A ‘traditional’ CV lists everything in date order starting with your education and qualifications, followed by your employment history, interests etc.
  • A ‘more ‘informal’ CV starts that starts with a pen picture of yourself which highlights your skills and experience relevant to the job.
  • Variations and combinations of the two above

The more informal CV is now fashionable, traditional CVs are more likely to be required for academic institutions etc.

I’ll be writing more about this in my follow up posts.  But I’d welcome your thoughts on writing CVs and your questions.

Wendy Mason is used to working with people moving out of the Public Sector! She is a performance, programme, contract management and change specialist. She works as a consultant, business coach and blogger.  Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when you are going through personal change. You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439.
You can find her business blog at http://wisewolftalking.com/

Building Your Portfolio – STAR Stories Make You a Star!

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Tom Hanks walk of fame star  Hollywood Boulevard

I hope that we are going to provide you with lots of resources here to help you move into your new life, including advice on writing your CV.  

If you want to find work, directly employed or as a contractor, you are going to need to describe your achievements so far. Getting ready to do that can be a real boost to your self confidence, if you go about it in the right way.

Writing STAR stories is a way to prepare not only to write your CV but also to answer questions at interview.  This will be particularly important if the organisation you want to join, or contract with, is committed to competency based interviewing  or wants evidence of what you have done so far!  Your STAR stories help to provide evidence of just how competent you are.

But preparing your STAR stories can also be a real boost to your self confidence, particularly if you are going through a difficult period at work.

Writing your stories

The STAR method means that for each of your major achievements you will set out the;
  • S – Situation, the background – when where, who and why
  • T – Task or tasks, you need to be specific here – exactly what were you required to do and what was the required outcome?
  • A – Action, what you did and what skills you used, how you behaved
  • R – Result – Outcome, what happened – what were the benefits and how could you measure them?   How did the organisation respond?
People like hearing a well told story.  And telling your stories well will ensure you are memorable for the right reasons; so long as they are not too long, they remain positive and they are realistic!

You will not put all detail from your STAR stories into your CV, but it really helps to remind yourself of the past.

At this stage I want you to go right back to the beginning of your career. 
  1. Use your laptop or simply get a notebook and note down all the good things you have achieved. We are talking here about your personal successes
  2. Don’t spend time on the things that you don’t feel good about!  But a whole programmeor initiative doesn’t have to have been a success for your part of it to be something you are proud of!  
  3. Now pick at least 10 achievements across your career. It will help you later if you include at least five from the more recent past.  But there is no limit to how many STAR stores you can produce.
  4. For each achievement, write a STAR story, setting out what happened and clearly explaining your contribution.
  5. Of course you can write as much or as little as you like about each success.  But at this stage about one page of A4 for each is usually sufficient.
  6. Start with your early achievements and work forward. 
  7. Do your research if necessary about times, places and events.  You are building a portfolio to be proud of so make sure your stories are accurate!
  8. After you have completed each story take a pause and review!  Enjoy your success.  When you have completed five lay them out before them and feel proud – I bet you had forgotten how good your were!   
  9. When you are ready, type them up and print them out on good quality paper!  
  10. Put them in a folder with your name on the front!  

You have begun – your portfolio has its foundations.

By the way STAR stories don’t have to be confined to paid employment.  Have you had a voluntary role? Are there things you have done for your local community?  Well write the stories and put them in!  They will all serve to show just what a valuable and competent person you really are!

And I would love to hear how you get on.  
Wendy Mason is a Life and Career Coach.  She helps people have the confidence they need to be successful at work and to change career while maintaining a good work/life balance. You can email her at wendymason
@wisewolfcoaching.com
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